Study Claims This Fragrance Ingredient Attracts Mosquitoes

If you live in the South or the Midwest, or even in Big Sky Country, you’re probably more than aware that it’s mosquito season. I don’t use the words “hate” or “evil” lightly, so believe me when I say: I hate those nasty bugs.

Irritating mosquito bites are the worst during the summer. It’s bad enough that they’re itchy, but they also carry disease-causing viruses and bacteria. They are literally the deadliest animal in the world. And that’s just not something I want to worry about when trying to enjoy the outdoors.

I am one of those people who have a special superpower when it comes to attracting mosquitoes. And I’ve always wondered why some people have this same condition, while others seem to live without mosquitoes during the summer.

It turns out mosquito attraction might not be a condition we were born with. We could be doing this to ourselves without even knowing it.

To be eaten alive? Maybe that’s why

Mosquitoes spread disease by seeking and feeding on hosts, and they locate these hosts through various sensory signals. Things like body temperature and carbon dioxide emitted through breathing play a role, as do certain smells.

A study recently published in Science Direct found that one specific chemical has an odor that attracts mosquitoes more than others: acetophenone. This can lead to more bites, allowing mosquito-borne diseases to spread. Or at the very least irritates you and causes your skin to itch.

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Acetophenone is a natural fragrant substance with a sweet, floral scent found in a number of perfumes. According to the Fragrance Conservatory, “Different industries and manufacturers may use different names for the same ingredient.”

You can find acetophenone on labels with names like acetylbenzol, ethanone, and 1-phenylethanone. But no matter what name this fragrance ingredient has, it will attract mosquitoes.

How to make yourself less tasty

To keep mosquitoes away, ditch perfumes containing acetophenone and look for products with all-natural fragrances and essential oils.

If you’re trying to protect more than yourself and enjoy your garden with others without mosquito infestations, try adding a large fan to your outdoor space. Mosquitoes’ wings are not resistant to strong winds, so they will have a hard time flying close to you.

Another trick is to grate a bar of soap and use the chunks of soap to create a barrier around the fire pit or wherever you hang out in the garden. It’s not a scientifically proven solution, but there is anecdotal evidence that it works.

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